Dear Diary…friends at the library

Been on the road for several months now.

Nori sleeps on the roof when we find an inn, or outside the walls when we come to a town. People seem to be nervous of her…which is understandable, given her appearance.

Raven does push-ups every chance he has. Ezekiel has been scribbling notes on his manuscript again – his magnum opus about the God of Gods.

Ran into a party of nine goblins. I was very excited to try out the tricks my Ranger Master taught me (about goblins’ weak points, of course) but I guess I was a little too eager because it was hard to land a hit on them.

Back in the day, a party like that would have wiped us out. Now, we triumphed with just a few scratches.

Being older and wiser and stronger sure pays off.

****

The tiny village today offered the blacksmith’s stable as an inn/tavern, so we hung out in the straw with the locals and listened to their stories.

An old man started playing a tune, and we slowly recognized it as that song the gypsy sang. Raven whistled along, while Mikael and I tried to remember the words…y’know, the song the gypsy made about our adventure in Orlane.

So glad to have that behind us. The mud-pit and Explictika, I mean. The people in Orlane were kinda nice (when they weren’t mind-controlled).

A little boy said his favorite part was when the lightening bolt killed the snake. He said he wished he could have seen that. Ezekiel said he wished so, too.

It was indeed something to see, though I was a little distracted. Always treat your magic users well…

****

Funny thing happened in the inn tonight.

As we entered the common room, a Ranger was telling a story about how he “told that evil snake that he was not impressed by her, and he was going to end her reign then and there” – and then he took his great big sword and chopped her head off.

(The barmaid tried to look impressed, but I think she’d heard this story before.)

I turned to Ezekiel to say what a coincidence that this guy had fought an evil snake lady, too!

Raven walked up to the Ranger and asked him about his story. The Ranger (I heard his name was Avalon) said that, yes, he was a mighty Ranger to have defeated such an Evil snake lady, and that we had probably heard of him.

Raven asked to arm-wrestle with him, and Avalon said it would be an honor for Raven to arm-wrestle with such a mighty hero as himself.

The crowd cleared a table for them, and Raven and Avalon squared up across from each other.

(Ezekiel sat at a table off to the side and ordered dinner.)

Raven measured his forearm against Avalon’s, adjusted his grip on Avalon’s palm, and then slammed Avalon’s hand down against the table.

(I did warn him Raven had been doing push-ups.)

The barmaid seemed very impressed, and after Avalon went home she went to talk to Raven. Apparently they’ve all heard the gypsy song, and Avalon says he’s the one in the song.

I asked Ezekiel what the odds were that there were two evil snake ladies around (in between making snide remarks about Raven’s new girlfriend).

Ezekiel didn’t seem worried about it, and we didn’t really talk about it the rest of the night.

As we were bedding down, someone pointed out that it would be too bad if these people think they have a legendary warrior in Avalon, and then something actually dangerous shows up. Ezekiel didn’t seem to think it was worth throwing a fuss over (he’s hunched over with a candle, working on his theological treatise), so we’ll probably just move on in the morning.

Avalon reminds me of a brother of mine. Personally, fame is too much trouble for me to want to steal it…and maybe getting owned by Raven will make Avalon reconsider his life choices.

****

25th of Harvester, arrived at Veluna City.

Found very cheap quarters at the Scholar’s Rest – which is right across from the big library, conveniently enough.

We engaged rooms (be careful that you get ones with beds, since not all of them have them) and stashed our stuff before heading for the library.

I’m hanging on to my magic sword, though…I’m paranoid.

**

Ezekiel asked the attendant about the Book of All Gods, while the rest of us stood there not really knowing what to do.

Tomlin would’ve loved to look around this place. Come to think of it, maybe he’s gone on for advanced studies by now. Alpheus and Mother, of course, used to go to the great library back home.

The attendant brought back the book, but neither of them could read it – apparently it was in “Illusionist,” so they’d need the help of “Prettypebbles.”

(Sounds like a gnome name if ever I heard one…)

He found him illusioned to look like a tall man (at least that’s what Mikael told me was going on), talking to a…young lady who might have made Nori look cuddly. I’ll say no more.

When Prettypebbles was in his gnome appearance, I thought I recognized his clothes as being the Starkmounds fashion – and sure enough, he introduced himself as “Neeblebluer Prettypebbles.”

So there’s another mystery solved! (He said Orlane was boring. Maybe that’s why he left. At least he wasn’t eaten by Explictika.)

Ezekiel asked about any references to the “god of gods,” and Prettypebbles flipped through until he found the page he wanted (see, when he recites/casts the words on the page, little images appear above the pages. It’s super cool).

He had trouble with that page, though, because of some “interference” from the “former rector.” They explained that the rector had spent a little too much time with the scrying orb in the basement, and now he was…troublesome.

Prettypebbles mentioned off-hand going down to “turn” him, and Ezekiel perked up at once. With his usual effervescence, he offered to go “deal” with the rector so they could continue.

Well, when they let us into the basement, we discovered a large black sphere on a black iron stand…surrounded by six figures I could only assume were ghouls.

Little hope of examining them to be sure, of course, because Ezekiel promptly dusted them with his sheep toy magic symbol. The orb seemed to brighten up after that – not enough to illuminate the space, but at least it looked happier.

After poking our noses behind a few more doors to make sure there were no surprises hiding, we returned upstairs.

Then Mr. Prettypebbles was able to read the page properly, and an image appeared of all the gods (every single one, so there were quite a lot) kneeling on a plain, and in the middle was a bright spot – so shiny we couldn’t see anything in it.

“Well, that was worth waking up for,” said Prettypebbles.

While we had his attention, we asked him about the attack our own village…about Ertuli, which seems so far away and so long ago, now.

Well, Prettypebbles got an atlas and started waving his hands and chanting his words, and a figure started to appear over the map – but then a voice said, “No!” and the image vanished.

He said we had to try with the scrying orb (so it’s just as well we cleared out the ghouls earlier) – and this time, when he tried his spell, he seemed to see much more.

It still didn’t make sense to me, but he tells us the “Black One” – the “Mage of the Valley” – was putting pressure on the bugbears (we saw this big bugbear chief in the orb) and that this chief made the goblins do what they wouldn’t normally do (attack a village during the day).

That at least gives us some answers, although it doesn’t help us much. I guess defeating the bugbear chief would relieve the pressure on the goblins…and as hard as that sounds, it sounds more doable than dealing with this Black Mage or whatever he is. Prettypebbles says he’s protected himself from scrying, and anyone who goes into his valley doesn’t come out.

We thanked Mr. Prettypebbles, and he said he would let us know if he thought of a quest for us to thank him with.

He did ask “Beanpole” to reach a book for “Lydia” – the girl we’d seen earlier. Mikael got it down for her – Basic Thaumaturgy.

Ezekiel said that was a very interesting book to be reading, and somehow or other she realized who we were and suddenly asked, “You’re not them, are you? From the song?”

She knew all our names, and what we had done in the lair of Explictika, and was very impressed.

“I’ve only been in two dungeons,” she said. “And they were really more like cellars.”

I guess you could call the cellars of the Temple and the Golden Grain “dungeons,” but they were nothing compared to the Mud Pit of Instant Death (which we barely survived and one of us not even that).

Ezekiel explained that we’d been engaged to investigate possible disturbances in the town of Homlett (everyone around here knows that’s where the Cult of Elemental Evil showed up however-long ago), and Lydia jumped on it and asked to come.

She said learning through application is so much more effective than just theory (she’s sure right there) and said she wanted to adventure alongside seasoned heroes like us.

Well…with an offer like that, how could we turn her down? Especially when she mentioned she can “only” cast up to level 2 spells (as good as Mikael is, it would be nice to have more than one spell-caster).

We got used to Nori’s looks…we’ll get used to Lydia’s, too.

So we start out the day after tomorrow. The others have some shopping they want to do – Mikael especially wants to get a collar for Nori, so maybe people won’t be so worried about her.

If luck is with us, we should reach Homlett in another month. Just in time for winter to set in. And then, who knows what will be waiting for us…


This is a continuation of the adventure begun in “How Did It All Start?” To get to know the characters better, click here.

To read where we left off last time, click here.

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